.- Friday night, over 200 people packed into Sacred Heart of Mary Church, just south of Boulder, Colorado to mourn those who had been killed by abortion.
The event was then concluded Sunday, when the Church buried the cremated remains of nearly 500 aborted babies, most of which were given to the parish by nearby Crist Mortuary.
“I’m amazed and overwhelmed at the support of the people who came out”, said Susan LaVelle, who, since 1996 has been organizing the burial of aborted babies at a designated memorial wall on the eastern edge the parish’s cemetery.
She says that those buried now number over 5,000.
On Thursday of last week, the parish, after performing the burials in relative silence, decided to go public. “We want people to know there’s a place to grieve”, LaVelle said.
“Our wall here at Sacred Heart of Mary was built to be a place to remember”, she commented. “Not only a place to remember, but to mourn, to grieve, to find hope.”
George Ketchel, youth minister at the parish told CNA that the wall has provided a great deal of healing to many. “That’s why they decided to go public”, he said.
Going public however, has many afraid that the burials may cease.
On Thursday, Dr. Warren Hern, who runs the Boulder Abortion Clinic, where the aborted remains originated, blasted the parish.
“I am appalled that the Catholic Church again has shown its willingness to exploit the private grief and pain of women seeking legal abortions in order to advance its political goals”, he said in a statement.
LaVelle commented at a press conference following the burial that she is “amazed and surprised” at the reaction of the abortion clinic and others to Sacred Heart’s actions.
“When [the aborted babies] were just being thrown away, no one cared”, she said. “Now, when we give them the dignity they deserve, everyone is appalled.”
The Archdiocese of Denver has expressed its support for the parish. Spokesman Sergio Gutierrez said Friday that, "this discussion clarifies the distinction between people who believe in the sanctity of life and those who don't. What is their view? To discard unborn children and then worry where they end up."
State representative Debbie Stanford, present Sunday morning, commented that as she understood Colorado state law, since the babies are defined as “medical waste”, the parish was doing nothing illegal. The only way Sacred Heart of Mary’s burial could be considered illegal, she said, is if the state decided to define the remains as human beings.
She continued that, “if the abortion clinic wants to redefine when life begins, then they can challenge [Sacred Heart].”
Late Saturday, the Boulder Abortion Clinic reclaimed at least a few hundred aborted babies from the church citing breaches of contract with Crist Mortuary.
Nevertheless, there were still between three and five hundred cremated babies to be buried during Sunday’s tear-filled ceremony.
LaVelle complied with the request because she was unsure of who had legal custody of the babies but called her return of almost half of them, “the most painful delivery I’ve ever made.”
Though critics, including over half a dozen protesters who lined the road near the church Sunday morning, claimed the church was making a political statement by going public days before the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, LaVelle maintained that they were doing nothing of the sort.
“The wall was built to replace a feeling, not ever as a political statement”, she said at the Friday night vigil.